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MICHELE MOULTON: Don't let detours put a stop to fitness journey

HEALTH FITNESS: Cyclist program pedals many miles in order to help others

Michele Moulton

Michele Moulton

I met Tracy Draper through Facebook and some mutual cycling friends a couple of years ago. Tracy is a woman who is dear to my heart. She is an avid cyclist and a personal trainer. I immediately felt a connection with her because we share a passion for fitness and cycling. Tracy lives in Orlando, Florida, but she is from Columbus, Georgia. We stay in touch through social media, and I always enjoy reading her posts about her latest rides and workouts.

Tracy has spent the last two years organizing a charity event, Ride Across USA, for the Hope For The Warriors program. The mission of the Hope For The Warriors is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty. This program was founded by military wives in 2006 as they witnessed firsthand, the effects of the war on service members and their families. Tracy chose this program because 90% of the donations raised go back to one of their eleven programs.

So what exactly is Ride Across USA?? Tracy put together a “team” of eight cyclists. These eight (including Tracy) cyclists rode from Topanga Beach, California to Amelia Island, Florida, in 31 days! They literally rode across the USA. Their event began on Wednesday, June 4 and they finished this past week.

When it was all said and done, the team had 3,050 miles in their legs! They averaged over 98 miles a day…. That is a lot of miles. Think about that for a minute. I did a little research. The 2014 Tour de France began on July 5 and will run through July 27. There are 21 stages in the Tour covering 3,664 kilometers. Hold on, that is kilometers not miles! The Tour covers approximately 2,276 miles. You see where I’m going with this… Tracy’s team covered 774 more miles than the Tour de France riders in only 9 extra days. That is impressive!

I am a member of the local bike club, the Pecan City Pedalers. I am also the Director of PCP Racing. Our club and team members had the privilege of riding with Tracy and her group last Sunday as they came through Georgia. The Ride Across USA team stayed overnight in Columbus on Saturday and rode from Ft. Benning to Albany on Sunday. We met them in Dawson and lead them into town. The team was very tired and ready to be home, but they were also extremely passionate about their cause and had some great stories to tell us about their adventures on the road. It was a great ride.

Sunday evening as I was winding down I started thinking about some things that inspired me for today’s article. I was really tired on Sunday. I had ridden more than usual because of the long holiday weekend. I had almost 300 miles in my legs by the end of the week. I had taught my classes at Impact Sports and Fitness, and I had done some weight lifting during the course of the week. Yes, it was a lot.

But then I started thinking about how Tracy and her teammates must feel. I had a long week on the bike, and I didn’t even have 300 miles in my legs. Tracy was averaging almost 100 per day! I also had the luxury of sleeping in my own bed and eating good food. The Ride Across USA team didn’t sleep in their own beds for over a month!! They slept in strange houses, hotels and churches….. home cooked were few and far between. All of this while living out of a suitcase.

I quickly ended my pity party because I realized that none of them were able to come in from a long, hard day on the bike, take a shower and crash on the couch in their jammies in the comfort of their own home. Sure, I had done a lot, and I was tired. But, it was all relative, and in the big picture I realized that my workouts that week were nothing special and surely didn’t mean as much those of the Ride Across USA team.

Think about Tracy and her teammates. These dedicated individuals gave up most of their summer and vacation time to support this cause. They left their families for over a month. They struggled through days of pouring down rain, treacherous climbs that cyclists from Florida aren’t supposed to ever climb and 100 degree weather…. All for the Hope For The Warriors charity program.

Where are you on your fitness journey? Have you fallen off the path during the summer with all of the temptations of vacations, ice cream, pool parties, and cold beverages? Get back on track. Don’t take a vacation from your workout program or healthy eating plan. When you start having a pity party for yourself like I did then think about the Ride Across USA team.

I’d like to dedicate this article to the members of the Ride Across USA – 2014 Team. They are Tracy Draper (Captain), Ed Bennett (Captain), Keith Sherrick, Clay Smith, Ruth D’Aiuto, Marion Kusters, Scott Manning and Bill Bellew.

Michele Moulton is a certified group fitness, boot camp, TRX and Spinning instructor with more than 23 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. She is the lead instructor at Impact Sports and Fitness. She also is the mother of two boys, Austin and Harrison.